Tag Archives: Zen

selections from Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

No one ever said that you could work hard—harder even than you ever thought possible—and still find yourself sinking ever deeper into poverty and debt. Continue reading

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walking birds in stereo

two channels of life’s transmission traveling
3000 miles across America in stereophonic sound—

two of hearts, one infinitesimal diamond
walking along the country’s deep black grooves

dreaming, “rhythm is rhythm—rhythm is life—
music is zen—systems, strife.” day

and night, sometimes skipping, sometimes
losing the beat but losing it together

and then finding it together on the b-side
of the same thought, not a measure too soon. Continue reading

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Crush on You

“sometimes you’re SO ANNOYING to talk to. it’s like having a conversation w Yoda.”

the best compliment i’ve received in awhile? maybe not.

yesterday i sat at my computer in the late morning, working on whatever, when my coworker Danielle walked up and handed me a brown paper bag. she said, “this is for ‘the guy w the luscious lock.'” she had a huge smile on her face and a cup of Philz coffee in her hand. inside the bag, i found a scone.

“dear god,” i said, “Torrey?” Danielle laughed in affirmation. christ… the girl had been working at the coffee shop for a long while, and we’d always been friendly, but this was too much! i have a girlfriend and she needs to know it right away. after freaking out for a bit, another coworker told me that he had already told her the all-important fact, so i could chill.

phew, sometimes compliments can be stressful.

earlier this week, i’d asked Meryl whether i was turning into a douchebag. my evidence basically came down to the every day increasing number of photos of me posing in sunglasses and next to disco balls, in addition to the fact that i now manage a facebook page 100% devoted to my dj persona. (christ, i almost feel like there’s a rule that anybody who uses the phrase “dj person” automatically qualifies as a douchebag.) in any case, Meryl assuaged my anxiety by saying that my very asking the question probably means that i’m okay.

this post perhaps argues otherwise.

after all, what’s more conceited than a ton of boasting immediately followed by self-deprecation? Continue reading

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dancing queen

Patti Smith is still alive; i slept with her last night. and by Patti Smith,
i mean woman wild, independent wedding band love child with
long hair hanging long socks hanging long legs hanging long
down to the floor, down to the floor.

eyeliner be damned she kisses the ground like a fucking
sovereign beggar could wait all eternity for the perfect cup of tea
to splash her into sweet and black milk laughter.

she’s not a singer
she’s no singer
she? sing?
the very last thing.

she’s a singer
such a singer
venom-sucking
silver throat stinger.

like a bowling alley thunderstorm booming across the Chicago sky, smiling
cocaine naught but bourbon, greens, and warm, warm sheets, i think

holy shit! she’s the devil, dancing queen. Continue reading

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a perfect ten

in less than a hundred hours, i’ve watched ten movies.

Yol (Turkish for “The Road” or “The Way”) is a 1982 Yılmaz Güney film that portrays Turkey through the stories of five prisoners given a week’s home leave. probably not coincidentally, Güney himself was in prison in Turkey at the time of the film’s shooting; he somehow escaped (i guess that whole “prisoner on leave” thing don’t work so well) to Switzerland, where he edited the final piece together himself from the film negatives.

phew.

you think that’s a mindful? the film is set in the aftermath of the 1980 Turkish coup d’état, so you can imagine how happy the movie really is. unhappy accidents befall men w nothing, families see themselves disgraced and bloodied, families tear themselves asunder from the inside out… and a horse fucking collapses in a snowy valley to be left for the wolves. he isn’t the only one.

7/10 because it’s good to learn new appreciation for your own free life.

Black Panthers (later renamed Huey) is a 1968 Agnès Varda documentary and short film. It examines the Black Panther Party through the “Free Huey” rallies assembled in Oakland, CA while the party’s co-founder Huey P. Newton was held in court for the fatal shooting of Oakland Police Department officer John Frey.

the narrator (Agnès?) had a cute voice. Huey was charged w voluntary manslaughter. neither point matters much.

7/10 because a French girl only needed 30 minutes to teach me a lot about racial tensions in 60s USA.

The Order of Myths is a 2008 Margaret Brown documentary film examining the Mobile, AL Mardi Gras celebrations—the oldest in this country—through the separate mystic societies established and maintained by black and white groups, acknowledging the complex racial history of a city with a slaveholding past.

the black queen’s family literally came to Mobile on a slave ship owned by an ancestor of the white queen… in a time when the slave trade, though not slavery, was already prohibited! complex as fuck.

7/10 because i value edutainment glazed with a maddening final line.

Lions Love is a 1969 Agnès Varda experimental film and epochal look at America in 1968: a meditation on freedom, fantasy, decadence, and the Summer of Love going sour.

no but really it’s just a bunch of artsy fucks (mainly the three above, who are in a beautiful relationship, or something) speaking “poetry,” singing, dancing, humming and being cool in a fancy house in LA. sounds familiar? maybe it sounds like your life.

here are a few of my favorite quotes from the film:

“i hate all forms of entertainment, including living.”

“a sharp mind is the death of love.”

“let’s stop fucking and have a cosmic climax.”

3/10 because three is the perfect number.

The Pajama Game is a 1957 musical film based on the stage musical of the same name, in turn based on the novel 7½ Cents by Richard Bissell. the principal cast of the Broadway musical repeated their roles for the movie, with the exception of Janis Paige, who was replaced by Doris Day.

Doris Day, or Babe Williams in the film, is super sexy, and all the men in the world (plus probably some women) want to stare at her ass (as shown above). one of the men, the leading dick above, is an especially huge douchebag to her, earning him the right to make out w her and probably squeeze her ass off-camera.

7/10 because if you can get me into a misogynistic musical, then anything is possible.

Phantom Love is a 2007 Nina Menkes surreal drama about a woman trapped inside herself.

when i read “surreal” in the synopsis before pressing play, i didn’t think about the deterioration of the English language. i didn’t think twice that “awesome” and “trippy” and “weird” and “crazy” and “intense” don’t mean anything anymore because everything is awesome, trippy, weird, crazy, and intense. and surreal, i guess. all life is surreal.

8/10 because this film is for real actually fucking surreal. sex scenes like a choo-choo train, ending like a liberation.

The Idle Class is a 1921 American silent film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin. it was my first time w the Tramp.

this movie’s so old it doesn’t have a poster. it’s so silent that there’s music and the occasional screen-printed dialogue so we have some sort of inkling about what the hell is going on. whether you enjoy what’s going on or not, you’ll be laughing.

7/10 because just look at that face.

The Wasp Woman is a 1959 Roger Corman science fiction horror film.

the above image gives nothing and everything away. but really, it has the best plot line ever: “A cosmetics queen develops a youth formula from jelly taken from queen wasps. She fails to anticipate the typical hoary side-effects.” of course. naturally. totally did not rip off The Fly (released in 1958). at all.

5/10 because i liked it.

Singularidades de uma Rapariga Loura (Portuguese for Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl) is a 2009 Portuguese film directed by Manoel de Oliveira.

a man falls stupidly in love w a young woman. two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back… this is how he nears her heart, his happiness. in the end, he discovers his stupidity, she is left as above.

7/10 because of well-framed shots, true mystery, and a harpist.

Offret (Swedish for The Sacrifice) is a 1986 film and the final from Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, who died shortly after completing it. here is the synopsis according to the Cannes website:

I wanted to show that one can resume life by restoring the union with oneself and by discovering a spiritual source. And to acquire this kind of moral autonomy, where ones ceases to consider solely the material values, where one escapes from being the subject article of experimentation between the hands of society- a way- among others- is having the capacity to offer oneself in sacrifice.

the shots in the movie, every single one of them a stunning portrait or landscape, are long. really really long. the opening, post-credits shot lasts nine minutes and twenty-six seconds, the longest in all of Tarkovsky’s work. in total, there are 115 shots in the entire film. the entire 149 minute film.

in the first shot, Alexander, the father, “plants” a dead tree by offering it support from rocks, and instructs his boy, throughout the movie referred to as “Little Man,” to water it every single day. a monk did this once, and the tree blossomed. in the final three shots, a beautiful house burns down, the boy begins to water the tree, and Maria, a maid, bicycles her windy way into the distance.

8/10 because, i mean, holy shit. holy fucking shit. Continue reading

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Dreamweapon

i just got back from Walgreens, where i picked up anteyebiotics-that-i-didn’t-think-were-actually-working-until-i-stopped-taking-them at Walgreens. when the white-haired lady behind the counter asked for 36¢, i made a dumb, apologetic face and almost handed her my debit card, but the crazy fat momma next to me picking up medicine for her high-strung fever-stricken five-year-old blonde boy wouldn’t have any of it. in an instant she pulled out one quarter, one penny, and one dime, i dealt bows and Thank Yous to both old ladies, and ducked out of the store, promising myself i would blog the instant i got home.

no matter that i’ve got one more blog post of the day (for work) to write, who wants to write about a money-hungry social gaming startup partnering up with a money-hungry fast food joint anyway?

yeah, i started full-time work super duper officially last monday. my job? write four medium-sized (250-1000 words) pieces monday through friday with a focus on social and location, especially Facebook, Twitter, Zynga, and Foursquare (the biggest social network in the world, the most popular noisemaker in the world, a company that somehow tricks millions of people into spending real money on 100 pixel-sized images of corn, and a service for telling people where you are in the world every second of every day). technology is weird.

BUT I’M GETTING PAID FOR WRITING!

can you believe it? i can’t believe it. this is always how it sounds when i explain what i do for work: yeah i write for this small tech blog that you never heard of and follow facebook andsocialstuffa ndit’sno treallyexc itingandn oidon’tgetp aidverymuc handyou ‘ reri ghtit sound skind of l am e but I GET. PAID. FOR. WRITING. such happiness.

also, i can work from home or wherever i want, for the most part. a typical schedule for me:

2330: finish first story, set to publish for 0100
0000: sleep
0600: first alarm
0615: second alarm
0630: third and final alarm
0700: wake up
0800: publish second story
0830: dick around online, eat a lavish breakfast
1000: publish third story
1130: dick around a whole bunch, maybe go for a drive
at some point: publish fourth story

i swear to god, if i cut down on my dicking around time i’d only be working five, maybe six, hours a day. still, i’m usually done pretty early, which is nice. oh, because i only get six hours of sleep a night a most (and no i don’t care if you think that’s a lot), i usually try to take the longest possible naps i can once i finish all my work. grizzlies need their sleep.

yesterday was a bit of an intense Facebook day for me because, after i spent about an hour of my morning watching this live stream from the company’s Palo Alto headquarters of CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiling some totally amazing awesome life-changing new features, i went to see The Social Network with Alicia. it was a pretty entertaining movie but, even based solely what i saw from that shitty stream, i can confirm that the film Zuckerberg is a completely different thing than the real Zuckerberg. this guy’s a brilliant and awkward nerd, not a snarky backstabbing asshole. well, maybe not entirely. my favorite comment on the movie comes from Zuckerberg himself: “I just wished that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive.” i feel you, man. these filmmakers gotta chill out. there are plenty of stories from the past that haven’t been made into great films yet.

after a coffee intermission, Alicia and i made it a double feature experience by watching Gummo on her laptop back at the apartment. before i say anything, just watch this clip:

here’s my synthesis of the Wikipedia article for the movie because i don’t know how to express ideas in words: 1997 American experimental independent film collage of unrelated vignettes depicting the hopeless, nihilistic lives of the poor residents of a small Ohio town that had been previously stricken by a tornado. shot with primarily non-actors in traditional pre-planned 35mm, along with 8mm, 16mm, Polaroid, VHS, and Hi-8, the film explores drug abuse, violence, homicide, vandalism, mental illness, poverty, profanity, homosexuality, transexuality, homophobia, sexual abuse, sexism, suicide, grief, prostitution, animal cruelty, euthanasia and racism. FUN! FUN! FUN!

i’m just amazed that it has a 34% on Rotten Tomatoes while The Social Network has a 97%. critics are fucking stupid. i’d say the movies are about even, 4/5 to each.

this is Alicia week! on monday i visited her at work with my laptop so i could keep her company AND kick back some brews AND write half of my tuesday stories AND give her a ride home AND chill a little in her new apartment to the sweet sounds of Neil Young. crazily enough, i ran into this guy Richard, who used to be part-owner and main waiter at a this delicious Japanese restaurant downtown called JoJi’s. the business got sold and completely changed a couple years ago and it had been even longer since i ate there, so it was a complete shock to me when Alicia called out “Richard!” to this white scruffy dude wearing a flat cap (apparently also known as a sixpence, scally cap, salmon hat, Dai cap, or Jeff cap) and sauntering over to the jukebox. as he turned back to Alicia, i had my moment of realization and (kind of uncharacteristically) pointed at him and shouted, “hey! i know you!!!” he was understandably taken aback (probably because he figured he would’ve recognized someone that looks like me) until i explained to him everything.

at first he couldn’t remember my family, but it slowly started coming back to him–how my dad always explores SF, how he’d always change the tranquil Japanese music to Latin music when my mom came because he knew she was Nicaraguan, the one time he accidentally charged my dad $600 instead of $60. i remember he was such a character, he made this tiny restaurant that fit maybe 15 people explode with Life. he had an endless repertoire of stories (you couldn’t tell which were real), he spoke with unmatchable cadence and wit, and, perhaps most important of all, he understood It. he is not one of those people you see going through life dead. he is Alive.

are you alive? Continue reading

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all your kind [archive]

i’ve rediscovered a classic. indie rock for life. making fun of christianity for life. read this Kenneth Rexroth i found; it expresses exactly one of my biggest beefs with the religion that i grew up with: The first distinction to … Continue reading

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I Can’t Kick This Feelin’ When It Hits [archive]

Melville:

The thing called pain, the bugbear styled trouble–those two legends seemed preposterous to their bachelor imaginations. How could men of liberal sense, ripe scholarship in the world, and capacious philosophical and convivial understandings–how could they suffer themselves to be imposed upon by such monkish fables? Pain! Trouble! As well talk of Catholic miracles. No such thing.–Pass the sherry, sir.–Pooh, pooh! Can’t be!–The port, sir, if you please. Nonsense; don’t tell me so.–The decanter stops with you, sir, I believe.

i do not force my drugs upon you. i do not drive you into the desert, strap you into a minivan, and order you to swallow fungus. i do not glare in your direction until you sit as i do, stand as i do, sit as i do, stand as i do, sit as i do, stand as i do, stand as i do, stand in time with my metaphysical realizations.

so what then makes you think you can do the same to me?

why this obsession with control? is your body not enough? i sit in the foyer of your illustrious mansion, crouched in the center of the room, the back of my head to the ceilings designed for housing giraffes, and i stare at my hand: i can move my fingers. first my first, second my second, and so on. i marvel at the control i exert over my own hand.

and you rush in, all a tizzy, commanding that i wear this frilly glove. at once, my liege, lest i be caught naked in the sun without my frilly purple glove.

enough of this, though. you lack the most basic control, you know not what you do. you would be the first to crucify Jesus a second, third, fourth time. and so on.

FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.
FOR THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY ARE YOURS NOW AND FOREVER.

it’s been 10 days since i left behind my 7th semester at Pomona College and i feel great. i have seen great friends, listened to great tunes, and perused some great letters.

i first arrived home in a bittersweet mood, with some small part in my thesis requirement still looming over me. i attempted to set to that work immediately, but instantly got distracted by a dark-haired girl with shine in her eyes and dog drool on her feet. Tori, Jacob, his sister Elena (i don’t know if i spelled that right–i promise i’m pronouncing it right in my head), and i drove down to Santa Cruz our first moonday back to pay respects to the scone deity, Adam, and his lovely girlfriend, Kristi. we arrived early, consumed massive mexican food even earlier, and got sconed so fucking early your mind would reel in upon itself if i revealed the time to you. and we walked among the redwoods.

later on, everyone minus Kristi slothed around Adam’s place like worms, drinking beer, creating beautiful works of pastel art, banging the occasional bongo, and blasting tons of Death Cab for Cutie.

and that was the red carpet that carried me into what’s shaping up to be a wonderful winter break.

the next few days were all christmas/shopping/family/eating. my BIG present this year from my parents is a brand new iphone 3G s, offering the latest (6 months ago) in MOBILE SPEED and VIDEO TECHNOLOGY. i am eternally grateful, but you might not be. you’ll probably find me filming you sometime in the next year (honestly, you might find my videography preferable to my photography or audiography, two art forms i usually can make creepily undetectable). besides that, from family and friends i received film! clothes! music! and BOOKS!

reading rainbow! at the top of my to-read list lay frank herbert’s 1965 science fiction classic, DUNE:

i liked it. i’ll prod Meryl into eternity with how much i disliked it, because i’m a well-trained annoyer, but i actually did like it. i’m not one to force myself to read 100 pages past midnight after a day of shopping just to stay on a reading schedule (or am i?). the text had more than its fair share of ronny-loves to appease me: strange Zen-influenced religions, cosmic creatures (sandworms that grow to hundreds of meters in length), and drug-induced hallucinations, stretching, spinning, obliterating the strands of time. my main qualms? it’s really not that well-written: reading in my old room may have urged this experience, but i felt 10 years old again, devouring the undeniably effective sci-fi of Michael Crichton. beyond this not so small annoyance, (and i have already tried to express this to Meryl) i grew increasingly tired of the novel’s insistence on the usage of MYSTERIOUS words and phrases while illustrating MYSTICAL, MAGICAL rituals and rites and initiations and traditions. every fucking chapter, another motherfucking tradition. i began to wonder if the Fremen ever rested, if they ever sat for a cup of tea or dance, like i’m sure their real-life counterparts, traditional Bedouins, assuredly did. i think i’d have preferred to just read Princess Irulan’s epigraphs the whole way through–those were the best. maybe i’ve just been away from fantasy for far too long.

unfortunately, it took me about a week to get through the 400+ page sandworm due to my actually having to do other things during the day: be journalistic, consumeristic, socialistic (does that imply society or socialism? whatever). i’m currently making my way through a couple collections of short stories by Herman Melville, gifted to me by my parents for christmas. so far i’ve read:

  • Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street
  • Cock-a-Doodle-Doo! or The Crowing of the Noble Cock Beneventano
  • The Two Temples
  • The Happy Failure: A Story of the River Hudson
  • The Lightning-Rod Man
  • The Fiddler
  • The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids (from which came this blog’s opening paragraph)

still remaining ahead of me:

  • I and My Chimney
  • The Piazza
  • Daniel Orme
  • Billy Budd, Sailor
  • Benito Cereno
  • The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles
  • The Bell-Tower

i do, however, still harbor the ambition that i can reread “The Hobbit” and once-and-for-all actually get through “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy before returning to school. to that cause, i’ll probably wrap up the current Melville collection (which goes all the way up to and includes Daniel Orme), switch to Tolkien for a fat, adventurous, smoky spell, and return to finish the other Melville before embarking on the truly massive and famous quest that is LOTR.

i’ll try to check back soon. Continue reading

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